The arrival at the airport in Perth was without problems. I spent the first days in Australia with Brian, Colin and Jackie. Heike, whom I met in Bangkok, put us in contact (www.cyclingcharlotte.com).
Brian and Colin cycled together from Sweden to Singapore last year and now they work as bicycle couriers in the city. After a few days I had to say goodbye to them. Brian accompanied me for a while.
Through Perth I was able to ride on bicycle paths to Middland. From there I first cycled on the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail. The 59km long route from Middland to Mundaring follows the former route of the old Eastern Railway.
From Mundaring I continued on the <Kep Track>. The Kep Track is based on the route of the former 3’6 WAGR railway line from Mundaring to Northam – and the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme pipeline route.
Unfortunately, the Kep Track ended after 75km in Northam. From there I tried again and again to drive along the railway line or the water pipeline. These have a small gravel road for the maintenance work on both sides. I tried as often as possible to avoid the <Great Eastern Highway>.
The highways in Australia can not be described as such in my view. They are just way too narrow and most drivers have no idea how to overtake cyclists correctly. That’s why I tried to dodge on gravel roads as often as possible.
During a short rest in Merredin I met Ken from Japan. He started in Shanghai a few months ago and rides to New Zealand. We decided to ride together to Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Ken did not want to cycle on the gravel roads, because the freewheel of his rear hub was broken. So we fought daily against the traffic on the narrow Great Eastern Highway.
The water pipeline mostly followed the highway. This pipe is called the <Golden Pipeline>. The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme is a pipeline and dam project that delivers potable water from Mundaring Weir in Perth to communities in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields, particularly Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The project was commissioned in 1896 and was completed in 1903.
The pipeline continues to operate today, supplying water to over 100,000 people in over 33,000 households as well as mines, farms and other enterprises. After 9 days we reached the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
At the Visitor Center in Kalgoorlie, we were told that Great Central Road is currently flooded due to heavy storms. So I decided to take the train back to Perth for a few days until the situation improves.
Ken wants to be in Brisbane by the end of May, so he drove through the Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide. That’s why I had to say goodbye to him already.
Back in Perth I had to organize some things for the outback. In addition, my tent is slowly over after 3 years and can not stand the rain anymore. Therefore, I had to get a new one, which strained my budget pretty much.
Back in Kalgoorlie I had to buy quite a few provisions. Between Kalgoorlie and Alice Springs (1900km distance) there is hardly a real village and the few shops there are extremely expensive. That’s why I had to carry food for almost 30 days.
As far as Leonora I drove along the Goldfields Highway. Then I turned off in the direction of Laverton. The Great Central Road starts a few miles after Laverton.
The route crosses several Aboriginal areas and therefore you need two permits for the crossing. I was able to apply for both permits at the Visitor Center in Laverton.
The waiting period can take up to 5 days. Fortunately, the staff at the Visitor Center had good relationships and could speed up the process for me a little. After a rest day in Laverton, I finally got to attack the Great Central Road.
The Great Central Road is a mostly unsealed Australian outback highway that runs 1126 km from Laverton, Western Australia to Yulara, Northern Territory (near Uluru/Ayers Rock). The Road has its origins in the early 1930s when Warburton was established as a missionary settlement, and supplies were delivered from Laverton via a rough bush track.
Although the corrugated tracks are not always easy to navigate with the bike I liked the area right away. The seclusion and solitude out here are just fantastic. Exactly what I have always missed so much in Asia and Africa.
However, I also had to fight with a few real pests: the flies. The only help to not completely spin is a head net. The critters try to fly into all possible body openings.
The biggest challenge for cyclists are the big distances between the roadhouses. Sometimes I had to carry over 30 liters of water, because there was more than 200km distance between the roadhouses and I managed on the gravel roads with strong headwind mostly only 50km a day.
I filled a big duffle bag with all food and spare material, which I did not need urgently and gave this bag always with a few drivers to transport them to the next roadhouse. This allowed me to save a lot of weight.
After 9 days I reached Warburton. My plan was to spend a rest day at the Roadhouse’s campsite and then continue cycling the next day. However, I did not get very far when I left.
On the first climb to Warburton I heard a familiar noise on the rear wheel and immediately knew what the problem was: a broken spoke. Annoyed, I started to replace the spoke and discovered a crack in my rear hub.
I was immediately aware that this meant the end for me. The incident could not have occurred in any worse place. Frustrated, I pushed my bike back to the Roadhouse.
The owners there were extremely friendly and provided me with a room for free until I found a solution (www.warburtonroadhouse.com.au). However, that was not so easy.
The nearest bike shop is located in Alice Springs, 1000km away, there is no public transport in the area, airplanes can not take bicycles and most of the vehicles here are chronically overloaded. To deliver a spare part to this remote area would have taken about 2 weeks and cost a lot of money.
I had to wait 5 days until I finally found a transport. Amelie and her partner work for the Maruku Art Gallery, which collects woodcarvings from the individual Aboriginal communities and sells them to tourists in Uluru and Yulara (www.maruku.com.au).
On the one hand, they enable the Aborigines to maintain their tradition while securing a small income. I was allowed to load my bike on the roof and accompany the two for a day. They took me to Yulara, the starting point for Ayers Rock.
After that I had to search again for 4 days until finally someone took me to Alice Springs. Siegfried is originally from Germany, but has been living in Australia for a long time.
At the moment he travels a bit through this huge country with his Mercedes Sprinter and still had some space left to take me with him. After saying goodbye to Siegfried in Alice Springs, I first had to put together a plan. The big question was how to go on?
After this experience with my hub, I was aware that I needed a trailer on the one hand to relieve the rear wheel and on the other hand to be able to transport enough food and water.
Since my financial situation does not look good right now and it would have been enormously expensive to fly home with my bike and all my luggage, I decided instead to store the bike with all my luggage here in Alice Springs, fly back to Switzerland to work there and earn some money and come back to Australia next year.
This was not an easy decision for me. I would have loved to go on cycling endlessly. There is nothing better for me. However, this is quite difficult without money.
As a result, I soon had to say goodbye to Dusty with a heavy heart. Now I have to go home unexpectedly for a few months. I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle as soon as possible.